Great American Smokeout starts

Since 1976 people across the country have united on the second Thursday of November to quit smoking.

The Great American Smokeout is a national event that encourages people to use the date to make a plan to stop using tobacco.

“It is easier when you pick a day,” said Lori Carter, the director of the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Copiah and Lincoln counties.

She said the day gives people a chance to make a plan and know that they are not alone in doing so.

Carter has seen hundreds of residents in her area take the first step toward quitting. She works in the community to educate, guide and promote the anti-tobacco message.

“There are many reasons to quit smoking, and everyone has their own reason that is important to them,” said Carter. “Every day, as you, remind yourself of this reason to give you inspiration and encouragement.”

Whether it’s to live longer, feel healthier, save money, reenergize your senses, to be a hero to your family or set a good example for the next generation, people across America will be taking the first step toward cessation on Nov. 20.

Lincoln County has two main ways for people to get help who are working to quit. One resource is to call 1-800-QUITNOW or visit quitnow.com to speak with a professional for information, referrals and support.

“Any Mississippian can call the Tobacco Quitline to receive free telephone and online counseling, and some smokers may be eligible for free nicotine replacement therapies,” said Carter.

The hotline is completely confidential and is available all year long from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Phone counselors will ask for basic information, assess the situation, help make a plan to cessation, set a quit date and call to check on progress being made.

“Whatever your reason to quit, the Quitline can help you succeed,” said Carter. “Each year, thousands of Mississippians choose to call the Quitline during the Great American Smokeout on the Thursday before Thanksgiving to begin a healthier life.”

Another option for the community is cessation classes offered through King’s Daughters Medical Center. The support group classes are free and run for six weeks at a time throughout the year. They are a support group that will supply nicotine replacement items, free of charge, with a doctor’s prescription and class attendance.

Kim Bridge, who works in community education at KDMC and runs the cessation classes, said there have been about 267 people who have gone through the entire program with a 70 to 80 percent success rate. He said the most important thing they teach during the class is that to quit smoking, one has to change their lifestyle and find alternative habits.

“We are lucky to have one of these programs in Brookhaven, where you can get face to face help,” said Carter.

She added it is not common to live so close to one of these programs, and every smoker in the area should take advantage of it.

Carter said groups go through the entire six weeks together as a support team, and Bridge is able to work with each member of the class on an individual level, while the entire group is working to overcome tobacco.

The classes meet for an hour every Tuesday for six weeks in the KDMC Education Annex. The size of the groups are between five and 10 people which allows for attendees to get a lot of support from the instructor and classmates. The next class section begins Jan. 13. For more information about joining the program, contact Bridge at 601-835-9406.

The cessation program is part of the ACT Center based at The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Bridge said that students are part of study groups, so ACT researchers will follow up with them after students have completed the program.

“Nicotine is an incredibly addictive drug, and its cravings can overpower even the strongest will,” said Carter. “But those who seek professional help with quitting are about twice as likely to quit for good.”

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